LCCI conference resolves to help curb child labour

LAHORE: Representatives of the provincial government and legislature, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) officials, delegates of international and national non-government organisations (NGOs) made a firm resolve to help curb child labour in Pakistan during a conference titled “Extend Social Protection: Combat Child Labour,” held in connection with the World Day Against Child Labour at the LCCI on Monday.Acting-LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah presided over the seminar attended by Social Welfare Department Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Ilyas Ansari, Punjab Social Welfare Board Chairperson Kiran Imran Dar, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Programme Officer Saghir Bukhari, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) President KM Nouman, EFP Vice President Zaki Ahmad Khan, LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar, Labour Welfare Director General Syed Hasnaat Shah, Association of Network for Company Empowerment (ANCE) President Raja Abbas Ali and others.The Punjab Labour Welfare Department, LCCI, EFP, and the ILO jointly organised the conference.The conference passed a resolution unanimously, an excerpt of which states as follows: “Resolved that this house requests European Union (EU) member countries and G-20 countries to come in and aid Pakistan through the ILO to initiate an extensive programme in Pakistan to reduce figure of 60 % plus, who are living below the poverty line.”Speaking on the occasion, Muhammad Ilyas Ansari said the Punjab government was making concerted efforts to control child labour with the help of other stakeholders. He said that the government was issuing social welfare cards to parents, whose children were not working, in order to discourage child labour in the province.Mian Tariq Misbah said that child labour issue was not only a violation of human rights but was also directly linked with exports of the country. He said that in the context of GSP Plus status granted by the EU, we have to utilise all of our resources to eliminate child labour as European countries have set strict standards as far as the issue of child labour was concerned. He said that the business community was very much aware of this situation and was putting in its best efforts. He said that there was a need to be consistent and much aggressive to root out this problem with least possible loss to economic conditions of the poor.KM Nauman said that child labour was not a recent issue. According to statistics, he said, Pakistan has a population of over 180 million people with a proportion of about 43% children below 15 years of age while more than 60% of the population living below the poverty line that was one of the biggest reasons of prevalence of child labour. He said that the ILO, federal and provincial governments, chambers of commerce and industry, employers and worker organisation were playing their role in addressing this issue.Sagheer Bukhari said that unavailability of reliable data was a serious problem and that a highly proactive role of all of stakeholders was required to help control child labour. Kiran Dar said: “We should start practical steps from our homes by stopping discrimination and employing poor children to eliminate child labour from Pakistan.” While stressing the need for launching campaigns and projects to eliminate bonded child labour through education and other social services, Tariq Misbah said that all segments of society should play their role in this regard. He said that child labour was primarily a social problem but that because of countrywide prevalence, it had become a national scourge for a developing economy like Pakistan. He said that every child deserves schooling and other little luxuries of life, including bliss of the childhood.He said that parents in developing countries love their children as much as parents love their kids in the developed world. “Had it been possible for them to send their children to school, they would have definitely done so,” Mishbah added.He said that it was preferable for them to send their children to work rather than compelling them to resort to stealing, begging and selling drugs for sustenance.Kashif Anwar said that the Western world had recognised and appreciated the issue from the angle of developing economies and that the facilitating role of the ILO could not be overemphasised. He said that child labour was a universal problem and a family, being a unit of a society, directly impacted socio-economic development of a country. Therefore, he said, a phased strategy would be the best course of action through which the issue of child labour could be tackled.

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